“Ref! Hand Ball!”
“Ref! No way…that’s ball to hand!”
Sound familiar? Well it should because not a game goes by where one, if not both of those phrases are uttered. It doesn’t matter what call you make when it comes to handling the ball, as a referee you’re never going to win. Either side will have something to say and you will never ease anybody.
So, let’s look at the anatomy of a hand ball and hopefully I can help calm the waters and make players, coaches and parents better understand why we call what we call as referees (ya right…who am I kidding!)
First lets look at what the LOTG actually say about handling:
Law 12 – Fouls and Misconduct (pg 36)
A direct free kick is also awarded to the opposing team if a player commits any of the following three offenses…
…Handles the ball deliberately (except for the goalkeeper within his own penalty area).
The operative word here is DELIBERATE and this is what causes us a lot of grief. This means that the player has to intentionally play the ball with his hand and/or arm in order for there to be and infringement. It is not good enough for the ball to just hit or touch a players arm. This becomes increasingly hard to judge especially when a game is being played at a quick pace and shots are flying every which way. Thankfully for us referees, FIFA has provided some guidelines and advice for us on pg 119 of the LOTG in the Interpretations and Advice to Referees section on our law book:
“Handling the ball involves a deliberate act of a player making contact with
the ball with his hand or arm. The referee must take the following into
• the movement of the hand towards the ball (not the ball towards the hand)
• the distance between the opponent and the ball (unexpected ball)
• the position of the hand does not necessarily mean that there is an
• touching the ball with an object held in the hand (clothing, shinguard, etc.)
counts as an infringement
• hitting the ball with a thrown object (boot, shinguard, etc.) counts as an
This video does a really good job of explaining the anatomy of a hand ball offence…[youtube:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CUASGLxFPoY%5D
(Courtesy of US Soccer)
Although we have these guidelines to help us out when working our games, at the end of the day they are just that…guidelines. The bottom line is that each referee is different and everyone has their own opinion as to what is a hand ball and constitutes a DELIBERATE hand ball. The key thing to keep in mind as a spectator is that every time the ball is touched by a hand or arm, does not necessarily mean it’s a handling offence, so please just let the man in the middle do his job. He might not get it right all the time, but who on this earth is perfect???
The Third Blind Mouse